New heart scan may speed up diagnosis with less radiation

New technology appears to provide faster, more accurate heart scans for both viewing blood vessels in the heart and measuring blood supply to the heart muscle, while exposing patients to less radiation, researchers report in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, a journal of the American Heart Association. In preliminary tests from a small trial of 39 patients, computerized tomography (CT) scans called 2nd generation 128 Slice Dual Source “Flash” CT captured quicker images of the entire heart, allowing doctors to better see artery blockages and reduced blood flow through the heart. This was accomplished using a tenth of the radiation of current CT scans, the standard test for diagnosing and pinpointing the location of heart disease.

The CT scan uses a high-pitch “Flash” CT scan technique, which enables an ultrafast scan time. A contrast agent and vasodilatator is injected into the patient’s blood vessels to help highlight certain areas.

“The new exam is faster and more convenient for the patient,” said Gudrun M. Feuchtner, M.D., a study co-author. The new technology captures images of the entire heart in less than 0.3 seconds — within one heart beat — as compared to 6 seconds and several heart beats for conventional CT scans.

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